Are Dolphins Really That Smart and Does It Make Us Like Them More When They Are? (2019-2020)
This project team examined how dolphins use energy to solve cognitive problems and how the perception of dolphin intelligence by the public shapes attitudes toward their conservation.
The first study focused on comparing the total energy expenditure of several dolphins while they participated in a series of cognitive tasks and during a control period, using doubly labeled water to assess total energy expenditure. Since no previous research had examined dolphin total energy expenditure, this project provided the first cognitive energetics data ever collected on dolphins.
The second study included an experimental survey of visitors at the Dolphin Research Center to evaluate whether the perception of human-like cognitive skills in dolphins influences visitor attitudes and conservation-related behaviors. The project team conducted an experimental survey in which half the visitors were shown a presentation highlighting similarities between dolphins and humans, including cognitive similarities, while the other half were shown a presentation with differences. Researchers then assessed how this framing alters visitor attitudes and their tendency to donate to the center and dolphin conservation.
Fall 2019 – Spring 2020
Is All That Brain Put to Use? A Study of Daily Energy Expenditure in Dolphins (poster by Ahmad Amireh, Chana Kaufman, Hannah Salomons, Rebecca Rimbach, Brian Hare, Herman Pontzer)
This Team in the News
Image: Tursiops truncatus (Common Bottlenose Dolphin/Tuimelaar) by Bas Kers (NL) licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
- Brian Hare, Arts & Sciences-Evolutionary Anthropology
- Herman Pontzer, Arts & Sciences-Evolutionary Anthropology
- Hannah Salomons, Trinity - Evolutionary Anthropology-PHD
- Vanessa Woods, Arts & Sciences-Evolutionary Anthropology
/undergraduate Team Members
Ahmad Amireh, Biology (BS), Global Health (AB2)
Chana Kaufman, Evolutionary Anthropology (BS)
Samantha Lee, Biology (BS)